In the interconnected world we live in today, we can’t imagine living without our mobile device even for one second. You could argue that smartphones are a necessity because of the way things work and how important they are to our livelihood (social media influencers).
However, there is growing concern over how intense phone use can negatively affect our mental health and what this means for young adults. Statistics show that the ownership of mobile phones in this age group has steadily increased since 2012.
So, all things considered, how bad is the situation really? Let’s dive in and find out!
What Is Cell Phone Addiction?
Essentially, this type of addiction implies the obsessive use of a smartphone. This specific behavioural addiction is also called “nomophobia” or the fear of ever being without a mobile phone.
As mentioned in the introduction, the increased use of cell phones is also due to the way the world works. For example, there are over 3.8 billion smartphone users in the world currently.
Research conducted by Virgin Mobile has shown that these billions of users receive 427% more messages and notifications than they did a decade ago. They also send 278% more texts.
With such heavy use of these devices, it is no wonder that users are starting to question whether their habit can have negative consequences on their health. Statistics taken from Google Trends clearly show that people are concerned.
Since 2004 searches made for cell phone addiction have been rising rapidly.
Why Is a Mobile Phone Addictive?
Image credit: Freepik
Mobile phone use can quickly lead to behavioural addictions that can be classed as detrimental to health. Why? Because of how they are designed. They can easily get our attention and falsely reward our dopamine system with a hit every time we get a notification.
Excessive phone use, therefore, is a surefire destination for most mobile phone users purely because these devices have the innate capability to influence our behaviour in no time at all.
In the following paragraphs, we’re going to explore in detail how exactly our dependency on mobile phones is nurtured.
Mobile Phone App Designs Encourage Addictive Behaviours
The apps we all have come to hold dear have been expertly designed to manipulate our brain chemistry and ensure addictive behaviour development.
The following app features all have a purpose in terms of eliciting a response from us:
- Unlimited scrolling or streaming: This gives us continuous access to what we want to watch.
- Exposure to what we like: Most apps customise their content depending on what we like most.
- Mere-exposure effect: This happens when an app is used so much that it becomes extremely hard to leave alone.
- Colour stimuli: this is where bright colours repeat themselves and artificial light becomes a stimulus that we start to subconsciously crave.
- Social comparison and reward characteristics: This means we actively engage and expect positive social feedback.
- Social pressure to connect: This comes from our need to constantly interact with other users of an app. We’ve become addicted to quick exchanges.
Mobile Phone Addiction Tricks Our Reward System
The way our beloved smartphone tricks our reward system is through what psychologists term intermittent rewards.
These are what we expect whenever we pick up our phones. Similar to a slot machine, our phones prey on the sense that something exciting could happen at any given moment and we should do all we can not to miss it.
Social Media Apps Thrive On Our Attention
It goes without saying that all social media platforms are designed to be fun. However, we must remember that they are doing more than just selling selfies.
For example, ever wonder why all of them are free to use? It’s because the app itself is not the product and we are not the customer. In fact, we are living, breathing, walking advertisers. On top of this, the product being sold is actually our attention.
We believe this is incredibly important because our attention is our most valuable commodity. When we decide what we pay attention to in the moment, we are actually deciding how we want to spend our lives.
Negative Effects Of Phone Addiction
Even though it is a new form of addiction, chronic phone use can have, in time, the same impact on an individual’s psychological and physiological health as gambling.
Among many others, the devoted use of smartphones can lead to sleep deficit, lower concentration levels, creativity blocks, anxiety, stress, and even psychological disorders.
In what follows, we’re going to focus on, in our view, the big three negative effects of excessive phone use.
Effects on Mental And Physical Health
Obsessive phone use has been proven to have the capacity to chemically change the reward circuits in the brain. One of the main inhibitors to be impacted is gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA for short.
This neurotransmitter is responsible for giving us a calming or euphoric effect. It can even have an impact on our fear and anxiety levels. This is why it has a significant role in making us addicted to one thing or another as it rewards substance use and reinforces negative behaviours.
Extensive research has shown that phone overuse can significantly increase or decrease GABA production. Such changes are conclusive signs of an addiction.
Decrease In Grey Matter
Grey matter represents that component of the brain with a direct line to the part of our central nervous system responsible for movement, memory and emotions.
Scientists have found that people diagnosed with phone addiction have a significant decrease in grey matter in critical areas. Such a shift to the brain’s grey matter has been found only in individuals suffering from substance abuse.
Mental Disorders That Can Lead to Suicide
There is a strong correlation between phone addiction and a rise in depression or suicide among teenagers, girls in particular.
Between 2010 and 2015, the suicide rate of female teenagers in the US rose by 65% while the documented cases of severe depression increased by 58%. Many scientists are of the firm opinion that these dire statistics are a direct reflection of phone addiction.
Ready to take control of your cell phone addiction?
The condition of phone overuse can no longer be overlooked. These devices are ever-present in our lives with an immense power to control our chemical response to external stimuli.
Not only are they capable of changing our response to what we perceive as a reward but can also have severe effects on our children’s mental health.
Combine all the negative effects we discussed together with the documented adverse effects that EMF radiation phones generate and we have a serious problem on our hands.
This is why it is extremely important to be wary of the devices we use and how much power we let them have over us. It is equally essential to be on the lookout for products that can protect us to some degree.
At Omnia we take this very seriously, we have devoted several years to producing products that have a proven track record when it comes to harmonising EMF radiation fields, which brings great benefits to the body.
We encourage you to visit our online shop for more details where you will find more information regarding the impact electrical devices can have on our body in real time. Meaning as soon as you touch a wireless device, we measure the instant reaction in the body.More so, if you believe your smartphone addiction has gotten out of hand, there are organisations you can turn to for help. The Recovery Trust is one such example.